3 Reasons Why Ethiopians Are The Best Runners

Over the last few decades, Ethiopians have proved to be the greatest runners in the world, to the point where the vast majority of sporting experts agree they are the so-called crème de la crème.

Believe it or not, the main reasons for this have nothing to do with nutrition, their shoes, or the climate in which they train. In case you want to learn more, here are the three main reasons Ethiopians dominate the running game.

1. They Rarely Run on Concrete 

The Ethiopians' greatness in the game is so incredible that they tore down an important paradigm many runners have followed for years. Most professional runners practice exclusively on concrete to adapt their feet to the surface, which the vast majority of competitions use for their tracks.

This paradigm was utterly destroyed when it was revealed that Ethiopian runners limit themselves to only one run per week on this surface. Athletes from Ethiopia believe that regular training on concrete can do more harm than good since it can "overheat" their feet before important competitions. In addition, running too much on concrete can bludgeon the speed out of the legs, which could ruin your chances on an important race day.

Instead of running on asphalt, Ethiopians regularly run on gravelly trails or in the forest. They run on the actual track itself on occasion. As a bonus, training less often on concrete lowers the amount of shoe repair service a team requires during training.

2. They Add Strides At The End Of Every Run

One of the most familiar images we have seen over the last few years is a Kenyan and an Ethiopian runner neck-to-neck with 100m to go. While Kenyan runners are also extraordinary, Ethiopians end up winning the race the majority of the time, especially when they are neck-to-neck. 

The reason? They usually finish their midweek practice runs with a couple of "strides," which consist of 20 or 25-second bursts at 70-80 percent effort, focusing on keeping the best shape possible.

An excellent example of an Ethiopian beating a Kenyan was at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, where the legendary Haile Gebrselassie outperformed Paul Tergat in the 10,000m. Another unforgettable moment occurred in the 2020 London Marathon, where Shura Kitata managed to outsprint Vincent Kipchumba.

3. They Are "Dangerous" Runners

An interesting fact that describes how ferocious Ethiopian runners are is that it's a big compliment for them to be referred to as "dangerous" or adegenya. It's worth noting that being "dangerous" as a runner doesn't mean taking any unnecessary risk or being violent on the track. 

What adegenya means is taking your personal and professional discipline to the next level and making sacrifices that will enhance your efficiency in every competition. This makes them dangerously good runners!

Several world-class runners have pointed out that Ethiopians usually wake up at 3 am before competitions to do some intense hill repeats. This regimen strengthens their legs, builds their competitive mode, and helps them become absolute smashers on the track.

In essence, what Ethiopian runners do is prepare themselves as tennis player Rafael Nadal prepares for a Grand Slam tournament or as soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo prepares for a Champions League match. They undergo high-intensity workouts to prepare their bodies as well as their minds for the race up ahead. 

Final Thoughts

Ethiopian runners dedicate their lives to this sport. They take it seriously by committing to the three essential techniques listed above. While many other nations around the world generate terrific runners, the excellence shown by Ethiopians is unmatchable! 

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